07/01/2010 12:00AM

Distance the key in Cleveland Gold Cup


The $75,000 Cleveland Gold Cup has drawn 10 top 3-year-old Ohio-breds, none of whom has raced at the Gold Cup distance of 1 1/8 miles, in what should be a hotly contested race Saturday at Thistledown.

Ohio juvenile champion That's a Heckofacat, a triple stakes winner last season, will probably draw the most action from the betting public. A gelded son of Hold That Tiger, That's a Heckofacat has won 4 of his 5 starts and banked $114,870. He won the six-furlong H.B. Noonan stakes at Beulah Park in his seasonal debut on March 15, then faded badly in 1 1/16-mile Green Carpet Stakes at River Downs in his last start on May 29. In that race he was beaten by three of his opponents in Saturday's race, Busha, Almighty O., and Nehru.

"He had never been on the turf before and blew both turns," said William Cowans, who trains That's a Heckofacat. "But he's been training real well with two good works since the Green Carpet."

That's Heckofacat is owned by his breeder, Barbara G. Johnson, and will be ridden by Scott Speith. All starters in the race will carry 119 pounds.

Busha is a double stakes winner who has never finished worse than third in his eight starts and appears to be at his best when racing over a route of ground. In his win in the Green Carpet, he overcame being pinched back at the start and rallied steadily to get up in time. The extra distance of the race should enhance his chances. His regular rider, Perry Ouzts, will be aboard for trainer Mike Rone.

Almighty O. set most of the pace in the Green Carpet before dropping a three-quarter-length decision to Busha. He is also trained by Cowans and will be ridden by Dean Sarvis.

Nehru was claimed for $35,000 at Gulfstream Park on March 14 by trainer Wesley Ward for owners Kenneth and Sarah Ramsey. In his first start for his new owners, he won his maiden race while competing with winners in a 7 1/2-furlong turf allowance at River Downs, then he came back to finish third in the Green Carpet. Jason Lumpkins has the mount.